Title: Until We Have Faces
Label: Essential Records
Release Date: 2/1/2011
Reviewer: Joshua Clark
- Feed The Machine
- Lie To Me (Denial)
- Let It Burn
- Buried Beneath
- Not Alone
- Watch You Crawl
- The Outside
- Who We Are
- Best Is Yet To Come
- Hymn For The Missing
RED has been busy since their debut release of End Of Silence back in 2006. They kind of came out of nowhere and since then have garnered quite a bit of success. Having released two strong albums with End Of Silence and Innocence & Instinct, along with relentless touring it’s not too big of a surprise. RED now come back releasing their 3rd studio album and the big question is does this album hold up to their past releases? I have been following RED since their debut and while not my favorite band they do make some really solid heavy radio rock and rise above much of their competition. So just figuring I’d enjoy this as much as their past releases I went ahead and ordered this from Family Christian Stores; I was lucky enough that my preorder came quite a few days earlier than the release date. I pretty much got what I expected with this release from RED. There is no doubt this sounds like RED and it displays the sound you have grown to expect from the band. This can be both a good and a bad thing depending on whether you really like their sound or if you’re not the biggest fan.
Musically RED can be compared to a number of bands leading in the mainstream rock world as well as a number of Christian rock bands. The difference is RED does tend to try to push the envelope a little more in the realm of rock music and is one of the more enjoyable bands. They have the heavy riffs to drive the songs, mid-tempo drums, and then the symphonic sounds fused with the rock. But even with that being the case, the band at times is sounding too similar album to album and in this within the album as well. I won’t deny the band makes some great songs and that I listen to their music a fair amount; I would like the band so much more if they had a little more variety though. Another thing I was a little disappointed about is I’m not feeling as much of the “heavy rock feel” from RED anymore. They have a got a little more radio friendly here and yes they are heavy enough to not disappoint but they have lost a little of that extra muscle. Probably what doesn’t help with this is there a number of ballads or slower tracks that make the album seem soft. This isn’t bad because the band can make some nice rock ballads that go perfectly with the strings that RED throws in all their songs. It’s just when I was really hoping for the band to get a little heavier they kind of slid the other way, but that is just my personal taste.
In the vocal department Mike Barnes is just as strong as ever. He has a really strong voice that can be intense and at other times even pretty, which you can’t say about every rock vocalist. So no complaints there, Mike puts a lot of passion into everything he sings and easily draws the listener in. There is a small amount of screams sprinkled throughout the album but if that’s not your thing don’t worry it’s not there too much. Which for someone like me that was a letdown. In their debut album he showed off quite a bit more screams and he actually had a really good scream that added some great elements to their songs. That had dwindled down to hardly anything with the most noticeable being in “Feed The Machine.” Otherwise it is just a background effect sprinkled in a few other tracks or some brief scream segments.
Lyrically the band has never disappointed in the past by having an uplifting spiritual message and displaying their faith in a clear way but by never being too blunt. This is also the case here and the band tackles some good topics. The message of the album could be summed up in finding your true identity. “Faceless” has a great message of going down a path of hollowness in life and spurs on that search for what truly makes up your identity. Other songs continue this idea as well as finding hope in destruction and in a cold world. Overall there is a redeeming quality on the album and always pointing to the true source that gives us our identities and one that lets us define ourselves through Him.
“Feed The Machine” was a very wise track to start the album off with; it is heavy and melodic, having some well-placed screams. This was one of my favorite tracks and it would have been nice to have a few more like this. “Lie To Me (Denial) is also a good rock track and it has a very catchy chorus. “Buried Beneath” is another of my favorites. It has more subdued verses but picks up in the chorus and has some of my favorite lines in the chorus:
Finally breaking so where are you now/?It’s been such a long time/?But I’ve tried to live without/?I’m suffocating I need you to breathe/?So reach down and pull me up/?Pull me up before I am buried beneath
“Faceless,” “Watch You Crawl,” and “The Outside” also bring the rock and are decent tracks, they just don’t stick out as well. “Who We Are” actually has a bit of a different rock sound from the rest of the album and is a pretty good track.
While the rest aren’t necessarily true ballads they are a lot softer and more laid back tracks. “Not Alone” and “Hymn For The Missing” would be considered ballads and pull this sound off the best. Unfortunately I haven’t seen a ballad yet that matches up to “Pieces” off of End Of Silence.
Overall: RED shows they know how to do heavy radio rock really well. So while this is a pretty decent album most of the tracks flow into one another and don’t do enough to diversify each of the tracks to make the album something amazing. I’m going to give the album a 6 based off our scoring system.The band made a solid rock album, it just doesn’t stand out as spectacular. There is no doubt this is some of the best mainstream rock out there and I’m glad RED’s message can be spread to such a large audience. There good at what they do but as someone who has followed them from the beginning I don’t think this is their strongest release and I’m just hoping for something stronger from a band who has showed they are capable of making solid music. Nevertheless if you enjoy RED or any radio rock you will love this album. And for anyone else it’s worth checking out, even though it’s not their best I know I will still be playing this a fair amount.